Hayesville

97 reviews
backpacking
5 days ago

Until a proper maintenance crew decides to work on the trail past the first 5 miles from the trail head, one had better prepare for one heck of a disappointment.

To begin with, every trail in the area is blazed the same color. For some reason, the crew doesn't understand that a trail more than 12 miles "should" be blazed white while spurs and intersecting trails "should" be a different color. Also, there are blazes where is's painfully obvious there is a trail but at the "balds" (which aren't) and the gaps, where the briars are head high and the trail so faint it's difficult to navigate, there are no blazes. Nada. None. There are more "Bear Sanctuary" placards than trail blazes.

Water. Bring more than you think you'll need. Then bring twice that. The water sources are few and far between. Remember, you're at the top of a ridge. To get to any water it's hundreds (more than 200) meters to a POSSIBLE water source which is downhill (way down hill) from the trail. The "map" Alltrails offers doesn't mark any of them and the "reviews" posted below are less than helpful. Seriously... bring more water than you think you'll need.

I'm not going to bother with the issue of the elevation gain and loss... it's a ridge run... it's expected (and one of the main reasons I went this week). However... due to the remoteness of the trail; IF/WHEN there is a medical emergency, lost/overdue hiker, etc you will be stuck in place with no help for over 24 hours. Or more. My hiking partner and I are both search and rescue technicians and know our jobs well. I may know what I'm talking about here.

Other hazards include wild hogs (we had a passel of them "interact" with us out around Signal Knob), trail along the sides of hills that are overgrown and not well cut (one slip in the rain and there's a strong possibility of a serious fall or an ankle injury, massive fallen trees blocking the trail and did I mention the lack of proper blazes?

Really.... unless you are a serious back-country backpacker with extremely strong navigation skills, stay off this trail. Oh, and find a better map than the one here. The actual Rim Trail leaves/reaches the ridge west of Shortoff but keep in mind that all the elevation it took you 2 days to gain is lost in less than half a day.

I give this trail 5 stars not for it's beauty but for it's difficulty. Some of the other reviewers never ran this ridge, they stayed in the valley along the river.